What is the Corral about?

Well, simply, it is a place to round-up ideas, thoughts, comments and anything else you may like to hear about. My original intention was to have a forum but the time to manage such a gathering is really beyond me at this stage. But via email I can gather up your input and get it into the Corral.

So, would you like to make comment?

What is your favorite western story, either as a book or a movie?

Want to tell us why?

What are you currently reading, watching or listening to (regardless if it is a Western or not)?

What do you want to see in future Western stories (grit or romance, maybe both, gunplay or justice, grim reality or happy endings)?

Anything you would like to see in one of my stories?



March 2011

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November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012








Thankfully I don’t have to make a living from my writing. If I did, I would starve. My output is meager and my chosen topic, the Western, is confined to a small readership. But being a hobby-writer does have some distinct advantages. For a start the hours of work are purely optional, and being your own boss has always appealed to me. You also get to choose the stories you write, as nothing is contracted or commissioned. It is all speculative in the purest sense of the word. I know that speculative fiction is defined as those categories that revolve around science fiction, fantasy and horror, but I’m talking about the speculation or guesswork of getting a story before a publisher. I am part of that large band of writers who write for pleasure, then send off the finished manuscript as an unsolicited submission to a publisher who gets to assess its suitability, not just on its merits but also on its ability to fit into their publishing and marketing program.

The trouble is, few publishers or agents accept unsolicited submissions and those that do are inundated with manuscripts. So the chances of getting the right story into the right hands at the right time, where a ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ could apply, is next to the odds of winning lotto. Still, writers are an optimistic bunch, and they have to be, as once optimism is lost, so too is the motivation to write.

My literary aim, if it could be called such, has been a simple one over the years, and that is to write stories that are entertaining and just a little different, a little off-centre or half a pace out of step with the traditional Western. I want the stories to surprise and appeal to a reader that doesn’t mind being dragged into murky situations where the lead characters have just as many flaws as virtues. I also want each story to be different to the previous published stories in both content and style.

Of course like all the best laid plans my aspirations have tended to go belly-up most of the time and that takes me back to the difficulties in getting published. My first two submissions to Black Horse Westerns’ publisher Robert Hale Limited, failed to make the grade. The next two were accepted, Raking Hell and No Coward, and the one after that, called Ace, was again rejected. The reasons for each rejection were accepted, but in saying that, I still think that each of those ‘failed to make it’ stories had that ‘something’ I was after – the little off-centre or out of step aspect. But love can be blind and I do have a habit of getting to like the characters I write about, even if they are far from perfect. And I think the reason for that is, that they tend to take on their own life that does not come from any conscious decision by me. It is this aspect of magic that provides, at least for me, the absolute pleasure of writing.

I once heard it said by the great Western author Elmer Kelton, in a recorded address on the literary prejudice towards the Western novel to an audience at Fort Worth in June 1989, how he liked his characters to take over the story and lead him off to places where he had not anticipated going. This of course is not without some risks, and he told of how Harold Bell Wright, a popular author back in the 1920s and author of the Shepherd of the Hills (that was made into a movie with John Wayne), had let one of his main characters go up into the hills to hunt, but then found that he couldn’t get him to come back down.

It has of course been said that if the writer has made up the character and situation, then he should be able to get them to do whatever he wants. But that’s not how it seems to work, as each character within a story has to stay in character. And maybe it is the unconscious that instinctively knows when a protagonist is acting out of character. At least I would hope so, as implausible behaviour is the quickest of way to break the appeal of a story.

But back to the subject of unsolicited submissions and the inevitable rejections that come with it. What do you do?

For me it has always been simply a matter of writing another story. Well, maybe not simple in implementation, but certainly simple as a decision. I mean, what else could I do. So after the knock-back on Ace in January I was back hitting the keyboard with some vengeance to make sure that I had a submission back into Black Horse Westerns without delay. I set myself the deadline of April, just in case it too was rejected, as I would need the second half of the year to prepare another submission. Fortunately, by 1 April I had a new story was ready to go. It is titled The Proclaimers and it has now been accepted by Robert Hale Limited for publication. So a Lee Clinton Black Horse Western will be released sometime around mid 2013.

As for 2014? Well it’s back to the keyboard, in between all the other aspects of life, such as work, rest and play, with that hope that it will be able to make the grade.



June 2012
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